As American students, we cherish our freedom and our rights. In the California State University system student behavior is governed by a particularly undemocratic code of conduct.
The Title V Code of Conduct applies to all students in the CSU system.
The code lists behaviors that are unacceptable and provides the president of each university the power to expel, suspend or put on probation students who violate the code. The code does not provide specific penalties for each type of misconduct.
For example, CSU presidents have the power to expel students for plagiarism or to give them nothing more than a slap on the wrist. We can only hope that presidents treat students in a neutral manner when imposing sanctions.
There should be documented sanctions for misconduct including plagiarism, with some leeway afforded to the president. For a student that harms another through their plagiarism or repeatedly commits plagiarism, the penalties should be tougher than those applied to first-time rule breakers.
“It is not akin to the criminal code,” University Council Elisabeth Walter said. “What punishments might work for one may not work for another.”
In order to prepare students for life after school, colleges should emulate the real world whenever possible. In our democracy, aren’t punishments for crimes regulated by codes with some leeway given to judges?
“If there are mandatory suspensions, students on scholarships could have a more severe punishment than students that are not,” Walter said. “All instances should be looked at individually.”
There are a variety of requirements that apply to many students receiving scholarships including: committing to a specific major, keeping their GPA at a certain level, agreeing to work in a future profession and avoiding suspensions and expulsions. Students who are receiving scholarships should be aware of their specific scholarship requirements and should not be afforded different behavioral requirements and punishments than the student who is paying for their education.
The code should be rewritten to provide students with more than just vague behavioral rules and punishments, but punishments that apply to specific infractions. If students were aware of specific punishments for university relevant misbehavior, they would be less likely to commit these offenses.
Karen Velie is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily staff writer.